Massive Flooding at El Capitan Canyon

Rescues Take Place After Cabins Torn from Foundations, Cars Swept Downstream

Update, 12:00 p.m.: Captain Dave Zaniboni of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department said emergency crews have rescued approximately 22 people from El Capitan Canyon & Resort Campground. No injuries were sustained. Fire personnel are conducting a secondary search of the campground, but there are no reports of missing persons or possible remaining victims.

After an initial rescue operation this morning, those who remained on the property were transported out by a two-track vehicle that managed to make it through the debris. The campers have now been removed from the scene by bus.

At 10:30 a.m. this morning, an additional rescue took place just south of Circle Bar B Ranch after a County Fire helicopter flying over Refugio Road spotted a flooded vehicle below. Soon after, the helicopter crew saw a woman stranded on higher ground, calling for help. She was promptly airlifted to the Santa Barbara Airport, before being transported to Cottage Hospital. She complained of possible hypothermia.

Original Report: At 9:31 a.m. this morning, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department responded to an emergency call that people were trapped inside a cabin at El Capitan Canyon & Resort Campground. The private campground, home to 200 sites, had flooded in today’s heavy storm.

An estimated five cabins and fifteen vehicles were swept down the now-rushing El Capitan Creek, to an embankment just north of the beach area. Two rescues were performed, and the individuals were not injured.

Approximately twelve people remained trapped as crews continued to search for more campers. Additional rescues have taken place, but as of press time, it’s not clear if all campers have been transported off the grounds.

This is a breaking news story. Check back for updates.


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